Celebrating the Life and Love of DJ Daniel J Ward – Maui Time

6/9/1964-1/7/2020

I think a little piece of my youth died with Daniel J Ward when he passed last week. It was easy to take youth for granted, whether we were dancing under the stars or clubbing it up at one of his Love and Light social events. DJ Daniel J was a household name of underground house parties, from San Francisco, then Honolulu and Maui, from the ‘80s through the millennium. We came of age delighting in the costumes and themes of his parties, dancing off the boredom and mediocrity of the daily grind, and always disseminating his sounds on mixed CDs, sticks, and now Soundcloud. My husband and I have the best memories of these times, shenanigans we haven’t seen the likes of in too long. Daniel J had a gift as party planner, transforming regular Maui venues into urban house music warehouses of fun. He brought in all kinds of talented DJs, artists, and musicians and sowed the seeds for the scene we have here today. 

We both had keiki at about the same time, got married and started families, and those babies born on the love and light plane will be the legacy of what is to come. That gives me such joy. To Daniel, sending positivity across the universe, taking love and light with you everywhere you go, made everything possible. The house music community he founded across the planet, and now immortal, will keep that as a token. No matter what, when you spoke with him he ended the convo by saying, “I have three words for you: love, love, love.” I send my aloha off to you Daniel, knowing that sometime somewhere I will see you again, but you were stolen from us much too soon. 

-Jen Russo

Daniel J was ahead of his time! He not only brought the house music and rave scene to Hawai‘i but saw the power of celebrations and the techniques of Love and Light – combined with the neurodynamics of dance, music, and art – to connect the house community and family more deeply. I was Love and Light Production’s resident VJ at the turn of the century. Every DJ that performed for Love and Light had my visuals behind them. And with every show, the themes via the visual message were discussed with great intentions. If you have been to Love and Light events, you can feel this fusion. 

From the understanding of neurodynamic connections, even the front door person and the go-go dancers were chosen not only for their visual aesthetics but as symbols of who they are in the communities. The club was our social-emotional laboratory, where house music was the energetics enabler to a multiple intelligences scene – a creative happening that bought the house family together. It was beyond a dance party but a community in the resonance of “Love, Love, Love,” as we often heard Daniel J repeatedly say and exemplify in his life.

The loss of Daniel J is not just a passing of a beautiful man but a celebration of genius. And with such a great void in celebrations, I hope we will see a strengthening in the “love and light” community that he, and we, have all built – especially in the current time of disconnects at the global level.

😉

My favorite words from Daniel J. were not “Love, love, love” as everyone would expect me to say; but the sweetness in the way he said “Hey buddy” when we met. Your endearment about celebrations will be greatly missed, my brother, but your process in creative collaborations will live on. That I will promise you, and I will remind Zavier about your sensitivity so he can see it in himself.  PS: Don’t worry my dear friend, I got that dragonfly covered.

-Hai Dai

Even before I knew him as a friend I had been influenced by Daniel J. Ward. As a young grommet skater kid in Maui in the early ‘90s, Radio Free Hawaii was a huge influence on me and my friends. I think it gave us a sense of open-mindedness, belonging, and identity when we were a bunch of outcasts in Maui. My friends and I started going to his outdoor raves in Maui. Later on, he was a massive supporter of my music when I became a professional night club DJ in my early 20s. If he liked you and your music he had no barriers in pulling you into his club world. He did more for me as a DJ than anyone else. I played music for his events probably 20 to 30 times over the span of about 10 to 15 years. He was an innovator in that he was able to turn a venue that was a restaurant by day into an amazing late-night club experience. Casanova’s, Mullberry Street, and Compadre’s were some of my personal favorites over the years.

Daniel was able to make a living doing what he was most passionate about. And he was very successful at it. Along the way he lifted others up and brought them along in that success. His high energy was amazing and his accomplishments as a promoter were prolific. Very few people threw as many events as he did, and no one did as much to provide high-quality West Coast-style house music and electronic music in Maui as Daniel.

He was an incredible father to his son Zavier and it makes my heart sore to see Zavier’s passion for performing music. He was so much more than just a DJ and club promoter. I truly hope that he can be remembered as an energetic, positive, kind, and giving friend with a huge heart.

-Steve Orwig

For those who don’t know Daniel J:  Mark Phinney, and I were Maui’s first large rave promoters, together throwing Bounce Kid in April of 1993 with 10 days of grassroots promotion (no computer, cellphone, social media) at Dragon’s Den, Request Music, David’s on Front Street, and a few other spots. Three-hundred-fifty kids paid 10 dollars and showed up then got the fuck down all night! He (we) tirelessly promoted events for the kids and grown kids of Maui until mid-2001. (Our final event prior to reunion parties was “Monkey Love,” a monthly underground party at Maui Brews” in Lahaina.) 

An unknown fact of our promotions is that we lost money on every party we ever threw. It was always just for the love! “Club 438” and later “Club 1270,” as we were known, laid the groundwork for two other legendary Maui promoters, Galaxy 2000 aka G2K (Delicious Vibes, Legendary Little Beach parties, McGregor Point, and The Green Room), and Mercurial Bull Productions (The Compadres events often featuring Mark Farina). We are proud to remain close friends with many of the “crew” from back in the day! Our last Maui event was a 20-year reunion of Bounce, which we did in 2013. It was a great night! 

In addition to laying the groundwork for some excellent Maui promoters to carry the underground torch, we also teamed up with several “off Island” promoters to come and enjoy our Housepitality! We hosted SF’s Stompy and By The People, as well as another friend locally to host Funky Tekno Tribe. One of our fave’s however was O‘ahu’s own, Daniel J, with his Love and Light productions!

Daniel J is a Hawai‘i music icon with his wide, inclusive taste in music. He is also considered by all (who know the real history of house music on the Islands) to be Hawai‘i’s Godfather of House Music, for his exquisite taste in underground dance music, as well as having thrown the first underground events on O‘ahu well before 1993. Daniel was a revered radio DJ, known for his radio show on O‘ahu’s Radio Free Hawaii and his “Dance Floor Democracy” igniting clubs on O‘ahu and Maui. He was also a producer. But, what really set Daniel J Ward apart from the crowd was his warm, friendly, and gregarious personality! His consistent spoken mantra, “Love, love, love” which he backed, genuinely, with a huge smile and jolly bear hug. He spoke in a rising tone, as if he was about to laugh at any moment, so much so in fact that many conversations just turned into laugh fests!

Perhaps Club 438’s most memorable collaboration with our good personal friend Daniel’s Love and Light was “Our House” on December 30, 1994, which was Maui’s first legit, large “indoor” rave, held at Sandalwood Golf Course in the ballroom. Sandalwood was used to doing “dance events” and had hosted several events for the Maui LGBTQ community (not called that back then). They weren’t ready for us, however, as ravers, young and old, lined the walls outside the ballroom, sweaty and glowing from an epic night of dancing and chilling and dancing again, as the morning golfers arrived with humorously confused looks on their faces… It was by all accounts a great night. It was also the 25th anniversary of this very same party, held in Auburn, CA to celebrate my 50th birthday, that was to be the last I would party with Mark. It was a wonderful, mind-expanding night with a most sublime vibe!

The adventures shared with Mark and Daniel on O‘ahu, the Mainland, and Thailand are stories for another time…

I have so much respect and love for these two men and the contributions they have made to the “alternative” scene as well as the impression they left with every path they crossed. They were both Love and Light and I can only imagine that with them both passing within two days of each other, that God was tired of Heaven’s K-Hits and wanted to X-perience something amazing. Well, the divine one’s gonna get it with these two! That they will be missed goes without saying. It is a monumental loss to humanity that they are gone but it has been a tremendous gift that we got to enjoy so much of their gifts for as long as we did.

So, if you’re feeling spunky: Come and dance or just reminisce with us Feb. 8 from 9pm till dawn to celebrate two amazing souls. Love, love, love!

-Scot Stevens

I met Daniel in 1984 and we immediately became close friends. In 1987 he proposed to me at Keo’s on Kapahulu – we got married immediately thereafter on the beach at Diamond Head. We worked and traveled and remained married for 10 years, divorcing in 1997. It was an amicable divorce and we remained friends until he passed. We could still talk on the phone for hours and we regularly traded advice on our lives.

We once had a neighbor on Kinalau Place that described Daniel as a fairly “New Soul.” If that was the case, he will be back around soon to spread his love and light to many more. 

Daniel was very wise beyond his years, but he also could not be “pinned down.” He loved to be spur of the moment and he was generous to a fault. The many BBQs at the pool, the private wine room dinners at Sarento’s, or sushi nights where we would befriend our neighboring diners – everyone he met loved him.

He had many great ideas and thoughts… It was amazing to help him focus to help make some of these ideas a reality: huge parties, three island concert tours, radio shows, the sky was the limit! If he bottled his energy he could have been a millionaire.

Daniel packed a lot of living into his short 55 years. Whether it was traveling around the world (which we did a lot of) or just going to Upcountry Maui, he made friends with pretty much everyone he met. His music and mixes live on and although there is a huge void in my life now, I know he would want all of us to be happy and spread his outlook of love, love, love!

-Cynthia Fenner

Life is so virtual now, it’s truly hard to realize you will never see someone again in this lifetime in the physical – someone who was such a massive part of our lives and someone who helped shape and support so many other lives. The impact of Daniel’s existence and love he instilled in our hearts, community, and souls will live forever in the universal story of time itself. Whether it was 3am under a full moon in remote zones pulsing with the most delectable intergalactic music, an eclectic club soirée, or an ‘ohana poolside bbq with his famous red sauce and endless ribs – Daniel had an immeasurable warm heart, generosity, joy, and authentic exuberance of life that undeniably uplifted an era and the lives of all he connected with. Mahalo nui loa Daniel for all the love, care, music, celebration, and unforgettable life learning experiences you graced me and everyone with. Thank you for walking and dancing on the life path with us for which I am truly honored and grateful. You will be greatly missed and you will never be forgotten. Your spirit will continue to radiate in our hearts and memories eternally. Three things to say to you Daniel… love love love.

-Solana Rehne

Love and light. This is not only the name of his production company but something Daniel J really believed would change the world. I know this because we had a conversation about this very topic while, at the time, we were both experiencing a rough patch in life and were trying to make sense of it all.  We spoke of the importance of sharing all that goodness, which he did through music. This was his gift to share when he either produced or deejayed music because it exuded from his heart and got you up and dancing. I experienced that as well many times listening to him. I remember going to one of his parties tired and grouchy from a hard day’s work and I couldn’t be upset anymore. I was up dancing and laughing and had the best time. I thanked him for shifting my state of being and he humbly replied, “That is what the music does. Thanks for coming and having fun.” I had many fun experiences as an attendee to his events and as his friend plus shared some sad moments as well. Just before Christmas this year I called him to wish him happy holidays. We spoke about our love for our children and all the good still to come, we spoke about really wanting to see the good in people and how hard that can be sometimes and we made a plan to speak again as soon as the kids went back to school. He sincerely thanked me for thinking of him and I replied, “You are my friend and I will always be thinking of you.” He passed on the day the kids went back to school. Knowing there will be no more conversations, I am left with always thanking him for the fun, thinking about him, and missing my friend. 

-Tracy Edelhertz

One of my fondest memories of Daniel was at the now-defunct 1739, after hours in Honolulu. He played a song that is still one of my favorites today. Our mutual friend Ed and I were on the dance floor, having a dance battle. Daniel saw what was going on and kept playing songs that we both loved to dance to. It was such a magical night that seemed to last forever. Daniel paid attention when he played and always put on the right songs at the right time. He is a true inspiration to all Hawai‘i DJs. I definitely learned a lot from him… not just about DJing and promoting events, but just about being a cool human being in general. 

-DJ Del Sol

Celebration of Love: Daniel J 

February 9, 6-9pm

Vibe Bar Maui

1913 S Kihei Rd. Ste H

Facebook.com/events/991600001223719

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